The first weekend of post-dead period official visits made lasting impressions on the visitors, and it didn’t take long before one reciprocated the love and committed. Arlington (Texas) Lamar HS OL Keaton Bates pledged to SMU Sunday morning after an action-packed official visit weekend.
"It’s a really good feeling, it’s a big sense of relief,” Bates said. “I felt good about it all weekend. It’s a really good thing and I’m happy I did it. I really believe in coach Morris’ plan and what he’s going to do in the upcoming years at SMU.”
SMU offensive line coach Dustin Fry offered Bates in early January, and one reason the school quickly rose to the top of his list because of his relationship with Fry.
“(Fry) was a big reason I decided to commit today, because your position coach is the person you’ll end up seeing the most throughout your career,” Bates said. “We had such a good relationship right from the start when he came to visit me at school.”
Bates went to some SMU games when he was younger, and said he is happy that he can stay close to home.
“I’m a family-oriented guy, so it’s big for me (to be close),” Bates said.
Academics are also important to Bates, and he’s excited to get the chance to play football while studying at a premier university. He plans to major in business.
“At some point, as coach Morris put it, you stand on an inflated football and its hard to balance, but once the air comes out and you have a good foundation, then it’ll take you a lot further in life,” Bates said. “I’ll eventually have to hang the cleats up, but I’ll always come back to that degree.”
Bates did not have any other official visits scheduled, and he chose SMU over offers from Utah State, UTEP, Fresno State, Navy, Louisiana-Monroe and New Mexico State. He previously listed Utah State as his No. 2 school because it was the only other school he visited, but he SMU was his leader when he got the offer, and his visit all but sealed the deal.
“I got to see how genuine the guys were on the team, and some of the upcoming recruits,” Bates. “I could just tell from the moment that I stepped out of the hotel that I felt so at home, the guys treated me like another brother and like I was already going there.”
Bates, who is 6-foot-4 and 270 pounds, said the SMU coaches see him as a tackle/guard hybrid at the collegiate level. He mostly played left tackle in high school.
Bates wants fans to know that he will bring leadership to the Hilltop.
“I’m a natural-born leader, I’m always going to give you 100 percent effort not matter what the circumstances, if we’re up 44 or down 44,” Bates said. “I’m a big-time technique guy and play with a little nastiness.”